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Garden Paperback – June 30, 2011
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Sure, all the characters have no personality and there's no story to speak of. But that's beside the point: This architectural fantasia by the Japanese art-manga master looks like a geometry textbook from an alternate, 6-D universe. --Dan Kois, New York Magazine, May 2011
Yuichi Yokoyama's Garden is like looking at plans for an art installation that's too big to ever be made. This 300-page graphic novel takes some large risks with its storytelling, but those risks pay off big time. Garden has been translated from Japanese to English, but it kept the right-to-left, back-to-front style of book-lookery. The story concerns a group of friends who are denied access to a place called "the garden," but sneak in anyway. The characters exploring the space are nameless humanoids who are all pretty freaky-looking, which is fitting because the shit they find in the garden is pretty freaky-looking too. First they come across a waterfall with rubber balls instead of water and a bridge covered in swivel chairs. To cross the river, the explorers transfer from chair to chair, all while spinning around in circles. The things they encounter later are harder to describe, although they make sense when the confused characters observe and comment on them. The plot doesn't build like a traditional story. The characters explore, comment on beautiful and frightening things, and occasionally engage with or hide from security patrols. It seems like the things they see become more and more dangerous as the book progresses, and then it ends with a confusing sequence that acts as an epilogue, in which we see what may be an explanation of some of the strange things they came across. My best dreams usually involve me moving through some strange and unfamiliar space while looking at alien objects, much like the characters in Garden. I blame those dreams on video games. A big part of gaming is immersing yourself in weird environments--you move through a space and try to understand it, just like in this book. --Nick Gazin, Vice, May 18, 2011
Even though it frustrates ordinary expectations at every turn, though, Garden is thrilling and engaging--a page-turner, in its perverse way. --Douglas Wolk, Time, May 13, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
The world that emerges is radical, extravagant, and limitless, but for the most part seems possible. You could actually build most of the things that appear in a Yokoyama comic, but who would finance an artificial mountain range or a city on coasters? Yokoyama raises unanswerable questions about technology, public space, the environment, consumerism, and desire.
"Garden" is probably Yokoyama's best work to date, alongside "Travel". Not just comics readers, but anyone interested in abstract art, conceptual architecture and design, experimental narrative, or open-ended science fiction should check it out.